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FOREX-Dollar holds steady amid questions about vaccine, U.S. political risk

    * Currencies little moved on coronavirus vaccine progress
    * Growing unease about current rise in new infections
    * Traders in Asia focus on yuan's rise against greenback 

    By Stanley White
    TOKYO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - The dollar steadied against most
currencies on Tuesday as a return of coronavirus restrictions in
some U.S. states and worries about a smooth transition for
President-elect Joe Biden offset optimism about a coronavirus
vaccine.
    Meanwhile sterling edged higher on media reports Britain
could reach a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European
Union by early next week.
    Drugmaker Moderna became the second U.S.
pharmaceutical company in a week to report positive results from
trials of a COVID-19 vaccine, considered necessary to eradicate
the pandemic.
    Last week, encouraging progress in vaccine testing helped
the dollar rise against the safe-harbour yen and the Swiss
franc.
    However, reaction in the currency market to subsequent
developments has been subdued as the United States struggles to
contain a second wave of infections, and with vaccine
distribution not expected any time soon.
    There is also some uncertainty about Biden's plans to tackle
the coronavirus and stimulate the economy as the Trump
administration resists cooperation with Biden's transition team.
    "The market reaction has been limited because it will take
time to distribute the vaccine, and there is uncertainty about
U.S. politics," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief foreign exchange
strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.
    "Unless we clear that hurdle, the dollar won't rise. The
dollar looks particularly weak against the yuan."
    The dollar was quoted at $1.1857 per euro, on
course for its fourth straight session of declines.
    Sterling was quoted at $1.3213 and also edged up to 89.71
pence per euro.
    The greenback held steady at 104.50 yen.
    Investors in the dollar are looking ahead to the release of
U.S. retail sales and industrial production later on Tuesday to
gauge the health of the economic recovery.
    However, policymakers' response to a record number of
coronavirus cases, hospitalisations, and deaths in several U.S.
states is likely to remain of greater concern.

    The dollar index against a basket of major currencies
stood at 92.532, close to a one-week low.
    New infections are also increasing in Britain, Europe, and
Japan, further clouding the economic outlook.
    The Australian dollar held onto overnight gains
against the greenback, while the New Zealand dollar hit
its strongest in more than a year as investors scaled back bets
for additional interest rate cuts.
   Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's most recent
policy meeting showed the central bank was ready to provide yet
more policy stimulus if needed after cutting rates to record
lows.
    The onshore yuan hit a new 28-month high of
6.5623 as positive economic data continues to support the
Chinese currency.
    
    ========================================================
    Currency bid prices at 3:35PM (0635 GMT)
 Description      RIC         Last           U.S. Close  Pct Change     YTD Pct     High Bid    Low Bid
                                              Previous                   Change                 
                                              Session                                           
 Euro/Dollar                  $1.1857        $1.1852     +0.05%         +5.77%      +1.1867     +1.1851
 Dollar/Yen                   104.5000       104.5250    -0.03%         -3.80%      +104.5750   +104.4400
 Euro/Yen                     123.92         123.93      -0.01%         +1.62%      +124.0200   +123.8700
 Dollar/Swiss                 0.9122         0.9124      -0.02%         -5.73%      +0.9128     +0.9117
 Sterling/Dollar              1.3213         1.3202      +0.08%         -0.38%      +1.3233     +1.3192
 Dollar/Canadian              1.3078         1.3073      +0.05%         +0.69%      +1.3080     +1.3065
 Aussie/Dollar                0.7315         0.7321      -0.08%         +4.25%      +0.7330     +0.7312
 NZ                           0.6896         0.6905      -0.10%         +2.51%      +0.6918     +0.6894
 Dollar/Dollar All spots
Tokyo spots
Europe spots 
Volatilities 
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ

 (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kenneth
Maxwell)
  
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